The pedicurist recoiled in horror when she beheld the extent of my callouses. "Callous cream," she sternly recommended, and then proceeded to chatter excitedly in Korean to the pedicurist next to her, presumably describing my icky feet in gory detail. After rubbing the magic callous removal cream into my feet and scraping, scraping, scraping, the pedicurist triumphantly raised the scraper with the incontrovertible evidence of my appallingly negligent foot care. She must have thought I had been herding yak barefoot over the Russian steppes all last summer.
But, with six kids, I don't have time for weekly or even monthly visits to the nail salon. And I made a bargain with myself not to get that annual mani-pedi until my husband and I revised the proposal on our marriage advice book and sent it off to the publisher. As soon as I pressed the send button on the proposal, I hustled down to the local NAILS NAILS NAILS! for their Monday through Wednesday $19 mani-pedi special. Score! Then I made my kids take lots of pictures to preserve this mani-pedi for posterity in case the next yak-herding season destroys my feet again before I can make it to the salon.
Since my adrenaline was soaring pretty high after I sent that book proposal, I also motored through about ten science fiction/fantasy books in the space of a week -- my time-honored method of stress release since high school. Most of them were free on Kindle, and all of them were pretty good. If you're interested in checking them out, here they are:
1. Divergent, by Veronica Roth. About to be made into a movie, this has been called the next Hunger Games. Great coming-of-age teen story. The author's accompanying free e-book, The World of Divergent: The Path to Allegiant, says that many readers ask if she made up words like abnegation, candor, dauntless, and erudite. The author cheerily responds that she likes these unusual, older words because their definitions are more precise. Unusual?! Older?! It's English, people. Aaaaaargh.
2. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth. The next book in the Divergent series, it wasn't nearly as good as the first. *SPOILER ALERT*: The end included a typical, they've been fooling you all along, you're only a social experiment plot twist. Here's hoping that soon-to-be-released book number 3 in the series, called Allegiant, will be better than book number 2.
3. Forbidden Forest (The Legends of Regia), by Tenaya Jayne. A paranormal romance between a shape-shifter and a vampire. Mild exploration of sexual abuse and recovery. Uplifting.
4. Forest Fire, by Tenaya Jayne. The sequel to Forbidden Forest. Some nice ruminating about the meaning of marriage in contrast to what the vampires call a life-bond, which has a hard-wired physical and mystical component.
5. The Book of Deacon, by Joseph Lallo. The main character Myranda tries to stop a war that two countries are perpetuating for their own nefarious interests regardless of the good of the common people. She teams up with a warrior who is half-fox and has been abused and despised by humans since birth. The half-fox is chosen to save the human world, but he doesn't think it's worth saving.
6. Guardians, Inc.: The Cypher, by Julian Rosado-Machain. Similar to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. A teenage boy gets a job in a library with connections to other worlds. The boy's special inborn ability to translate ancient other-worldly languages leads him to a quest to, you guessed it, save the world.
7. The Descent Series, Books 1-3, by SM Reine. A demon hunter and her witch protector try to prevent the take-over of earth by a death goddess. Strong female lead and great action scenes. But the third book in the series strayed into heretical territory, painting the demon-hunter as a Mary/Eve figure who was imprisoned by an abusive God in the Garden of Even. This "God" is obsessed with getting her back, and her fate is to kill him. Ick.
8. The Last Praetorian, by Mike Smith. Handsome soldier saves sexy princess, who becomes president of the new democracy after her father's interstellar empire collapses. Good Star Wars-style romp.
9. The Mind Readers Series, by Lori Brighton. A teenage girl who can read minds discovers that there are many others like her. Allegiances shift quickly and dramatically as she encounters different groups of people who use their extraordinary talents for radically different purposes, all claiming to have right and justice on their side. Very entertaining.
10. Origins (Spinward Fringe), by Randolph Lalonde. A group of armchair heroes hack into flight training simulations and beat the most skilled pilots in the fleet. When they're caught, they're drafted into the fleet and sent across the universe on missions only they can accomplish. Themes of loyalty, leadership, and sacrifice take center stage as the new captain pits himself against the profit-driven space-faring corporations.
"Your sexiness isn't in your nails, it's in you!" he replied. Awwww..... Best. Hubby. Ever.
Photo Credits: Lelia & Miguel Santos
This post is part of the Small Success Thursdays link-up on CatholicMom.com. My small successes were (1) sending the revised book proposal, (2) getting those gorgeous nails, and (3) reading a digital mountain of books. Go check out the other links!